Rosenbauer, a leading global manufacturer of firefighting equipment, explains how it manages customer specific product variants
Rosenbauer is the global leader in mobile firefighting equipment. We are focused on all things that firefighting squads need to perform their tasks. We are at home on three continents; we produce in Europe, the United States and in Asia. The Group has about 2,200 employees, half of which are located in Austria and the rest is spread across the globe. Our Group's business volume is in the range of 600 million Euros.
Fire fighting vehicles for a broad range of applications
Our different firefighting vehicles provide a good example for the specific challenges we face in our business: On the one hand we cover a wide range of customers and on the other hand our vehicles are used in very different situations and conditions. We are talking about a vehicle range beginning with 3.5 ton small fire fighting vehicles or squad transportation vehicles all the way up to up to 52 ton airport firefighting trucks and 62 meter aerials.
Applying the principles of industrial production to small batch sizes
The specific challenge we are facing with the vehicles that we produce in product lines consists in the fact that we have to apply the principles of industrial production to relatively small production volumes.
We are talking here about annual quantities of 250 to a maximum of 350 vehicles with a variant breadth of around 80 platforms and more than 2,000 options to create the foundation for an industrial scale production with a reasonable amount of effort. Here it is important to have access to powerful tools to be able to design our products in a way to make them suitable for series production and translate our designs efficiently into production processes.
Modular Vehicle Concepts
The requirements are slightly different with our high end vehicles that are assembled in a modular approach. For the modular designed vehicles the primary requirement is the ability to scale and combine different modules with a minimum of effort. Here we are talking about efficient generation of variants and automated output of specific assemblies and here, too, it is important to have access to powerful tools that enable automated generation of manufacturing drawings but also to transfer the designs efficiently into manufacturing documentation and manufacturing processes.
The growing importance of Electrics and Electronics
Analyzing current trends and looking into the future we expect that deployment scenarios in firefighting will become increasingly complex. Just think about modern building technology, the new and different materials, and transports of hazardous substances or the increasing complexity of passenger vehicles, which create new challenges for rescue teams. Projecting these trends into the future we can safely assume that the role of electronic and mechatronic systems that are needed to automate operation will certainly continue to increase, because requirements in terms of operation scenarios as well as in terms of ergonomics and security will continue to grow. The use of electronic systems in firefighting equipment that is produced in relatively small quantities confronts us with the necessity to organize our engineering processes in a way that is capable of ensuring our high standards of quality in spite of a high degree of variability and short development cycles.
Our approach is again to organize both hardware and software into modules, creating small, manageable entities that can be controlled both in terms of engineering and quality, providing at same time the ability to combine these modules to complex functionality in a highly flexible way.
Future Scenario Service
Readiness for duty is an essential aspect for fire fighters, because time is always of the essence. For that reason, service will most certainly become a focal area for us, for our organization and our process development, also because service efficiency provides an additional differentiator for us. Main areas of improvement will be to improve our service performance and response times in established markets. In emerging markets, where we recently were able to sell major quantities of vehicles we will have to follow our vehicles and build up a service infrastructure that will enable us to offer our customers in countries like Saudi Arabia an effective and efficient support.
For over 145 years, Rosenbauer has been building equipment for fire and emergency services. The company has successfully combined significant innovations and ground-breaking technology to produce firefighting vehicles and extinguishing systems in accordance with Global regulations.
Today, Rosenbauer develops and manufacturers vehicles in Europe, the United States and in Asia, serving many global markets. The group has about 2,200 employees, located mainly in Austria and spread across the globe.
Rosenbauer not only addresses the challenge of small production sizes by applying a modular approach, but also analyzes current trends and future requirements to meet varying deployment situations. Firefighting situations are becoming more complex. Modern building technology and materials, hazardous substance transport, and increased passenger vehicles complexity are changing the requirements for Rosenbauer's product development.
Effective collaboration between engineering disciplines (mechanical, electrical and software), using product platforms to reduce time to market, have enabled the company to achieve high standards of quality required of firefighting equipment today. High quality product that meets the ever-changing needs of firefighting continues to protect and ensure Rosenbauer's market leadership.
Rosenbauer is a global leader in mobile firefighting equipment. Producing between 250 and 350 vehicles based on approximately 80 platforms and more than 2,000 options, it is imperative that Rosenbauer leverage product platforms in order to be successful. Market leadership and international acclaim demonstrate the results and benefits of this approach.
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